I’m sorry

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Peonies from my cutting garden.

Sometimes I feel like I need to put out a disclaimer before I start typing. Although we are moving forward together, me with Blue eyes, and I am healing, and I keep writing because it helps me feel better in the moment, this ride is so tumultuous, some days I feel like I’m going to be sick. I have written before, and still hold by that truth, that I had never suffered not even one day of depression before discovery. I mean sure, I had moments of sadness, anger, frustration, despair, all natural emotions, but they were truly moments (not weeks, months, or even days) and they weren’t necessarily focused at Blue Eyes. I mean yeah, most of the frustration was, to be honest, because we are so very different in personality. I was frustrated by how disorganized he was, how much he worked, and how little time he carved out for me and the boys in the scheme of things, etc… etc… etc… all water under the bridge now. When he was with us, he was a pretty great husband and a fun and present Dad. I accepted him for who he was, and vice versa, warts and all.

After discovery, everything changed. I cannot really think of anything that didn’t change. Our lives will never be the same, never look the same. I cannot un-see what has been seen (mostly I conjure images in my imagination of his bad acts). I can’t un-hear what has been heard and I especially cannot un-do what has been done. My march forward bears all the painful truth that was hidden before discovery. I am truly grateful that my journey so far, all 1,254 days of it, has included much healing. I literally can go days now without thinking about the other woman, without thinking about the disgusting behavior of Blue Eyes’ secret life, and I do not, at this point, think of leaving him anymore. Unfortunately, with all that progress, the pain is still there, sometimes in the most subtle of ways, and I’m pretty sure it will never ever leave me.

It started last week. Blue Eyes was out of town for the day and I needed to take the dogs to doggie daycare. He had taken my car and left me with the dog car. The morning started out so ordinary. I hooked the dogs up to their leashes and we headed out to the old Volvo. This used to be my car. I sat in the driver seat and adjusted the mirrors and out of nowhere, I was struck by an image of the other woman driving my car to Seattle. Something I hadn’t really thought about for… years? Sitting there in my old car, with the dogs staring expectantly at me from the back seat, I felt physically ill. That nauseous feeling just swept right through me. I didn’t know what to do with it. I was aware of where this feeling could send me. Should I stay in the moment and feel those feelings again, possibly leading me to a crying jag or worse? Should I center myself with a little deep breathing and meditation. Should I get out of the car and go back inside the house and throw up? I felt like I needed to. And, truthfully, the dog car smells badly of dog. I’m rarely in this car anymore and I wonder how Blue Eyes can tolerate it. That makes me wonder why he doesn’t take the effort to clean it more often. Honestly, he still has the distinct talent of compartmentalizing so much, apparently even the smell of dirty dog. I opted to just sit in the moment. I opened the windows and there was a nice cool breeze. I took deep breaths of the fresh air and mindfully cleared all the thoughts from my head. I sat like that for close to 10 minutes, listening to the birds and the distant sounds of traffic. I did okay at getting out of the tough spot, and I made it back home having blocked out the destructive image, but that melancholy stayed with me.

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My favorite room at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills

While we were in Los Angeles, I had a few rough moments. At one point Blue Eyes actually said, out loud, “I’m tired of being reminded of my bad acts.” That made me feel totally alone. Of course he apologized, but the words were already out there. The rest of the time, I felt like something was missing. When Blue Eyes was with me, I could feel my energy seeping out of me. When he was off to meetings, things seemed less stressful, and my mood improved.

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Sunset in La La Land

Yesterday we drove to the beach house to check on everything. We had a company deep clean the house (there was so much construction dust) and also do the windows, which were filthy from all the coastal storms the past few months.

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Unfortunately, our time at the beach house was short as Blue Eyes needed to be back for more out of town meetings today, and I need to pack and prepare for Paris. As I got into the driver seat of my car outside the beach house last night, I noticed a longish blonde hair stuck in the headrest of my seat. I don’t have blonde hair. I don’t know anyone that would be in the car that would have long blonde hair, especially in the driver seat. It brought back memories of me and the boys visiting his work apartments in California all those years ago and noticing long hairs in the shower drains. He always had an excuse. The cleaning person he had hired (what cleaning person leaves hair in the drains???)… his roommate’s girlfriend probably used his shower? Of course they really belonged to the first other woman. She had been to both his apartments. He was so quick to offer an excuse, then. This time he just looked at me, as confused as I. He had the car cleaned after our Yosemite trip. He parked my car with the valet service at the airport a few days ago. He had no clue how the hair got there. Funny I hadn’t noticed it before. It was really stuck in there.

Even though I don’t believe the hair is from some new other woman, and frankly it makes me tired just thinking that, I still feel off. As I have said many times, menopause is kicking my ass. I am emotionally drained. I know I have some kind of minor depression. I don’t feel altogether sad, I feel tired. Tired of dealing with all of it.

So, I’m sorry because I’m not bringing a burst of light and joy into the world today. I’m sorry that writing out my problems helps me feel better because I know people who read might feel worse. I’m sorry that there isn’t some magic pill that makes all this go away. I’m sorry that I feel so dark on such a gloriously beautiful almost summer day. I think I’ll take a nap and hope to dream of Paris… four days and counting. Paris is going to be grand! ❤

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Pont des Arts. Lover’s locks bridge. Paris, France. June, 2013.

Is trust all it’s cracked up to be?

First, as I typed “all it’s cracked up to be” the phrase struck me as quite odd. So, I looked up it’s origin. Strange. The Phrase Finder

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I have asked myself and many others have asked me, if I will ever be able to trust my husband again. I realize there are about a bazillion memes stating that if you don’t have trust in a relationship, you don’t have anything. Google definition of trust: firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. I have always believed trust is really important, and before discovery, I blindly trusted Blue Eyes. I trusted he would do right by me. I guess my question now is… what am I supposed to have trust in? Trust that Blue Eyes won’t lie to me… anymore? Won’t lie about anything, or just specific things that I have defined? That Blue Eyes won’t hurt me, again? That Blue Eyes won’t let me down? I would venture to say we all lie to our partner at one point in time, and we hurt each other whether we mean to or not. I realize of course, that some lies, and some hurts, are much more devastating than others.

I trusted my husband, he broke my trust, and now it is much more difficult to trust. It is much more difficult to trust anyone. Even if I left my husband and eventually found another mate, I don’t think I would ever fully trust that person. Perhaps my ability to trust is broken. I’m pretty sure I would be okay with not fully trusting anyone again. Trust is a very tenuous proposition because it is built on only what we know to be the truth. And we will never truly know everything about another person. I SO took this for granted before discovery. I just assumed if I was honest, people would be honest with me, and especially Blue Eyes would be honest with me. HUGE assumption that turned out not to be true.

The real lesson I believe I have learned since discovery is to temper my trust, to define it better. Even if I can’t fully trust someone, because he broke that trust and I am having a difficult time dealing with that, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be with him. I do, want to be with him. This is a choice I am making by myself, for myself, knowing everything that I know. No one else can understand how I feel about Blue Eyes. We are approaching our 28th wedding anniversary and 33 years of being together. He is my best friend. He is the father of my children. I don’t hate him, even on the worst of days, I don’t hate him. I love him. But… I’m not sure I will ever completely trust him to confide his deepest, darkest secrets, or his truest self to me in the future. His life will not remain stagnant, things are going to come up. I guess what I have trust in is that my husband loves me and he wants to be my partner and therefore he is doing everything he can to be that recovered guy who doesn’t keep hurting me. No one knows whether he will maintain his sobriety for the rest of his life, or frankly, for the rest of the week. No one really truly knows anything or everything about any other person. There are no guarantees. There are men and women sitting next to their partner right now, feeling quite confident that s/he is faithful, not knowing that that person has betrayed them in the past or is betraying them right now. And they can say they haven’t, and lie, and how do we really know? I have read many a blog in which the cheater is rationalizing their cheating because of one thing or another. They feel neglected by their spouse, their feelings are hurt and apparently they have the maturity of a five year old, they relate better to their affair partner, the sex is just better with the affair partner, etc, etc. In my mind, these are very shallow and selfish ways to look at what I consider really bad and hurtful behavior. Unless you have an open marriage in which everyone is following the rules, it’s bad. In order for there to be a fair playing field, truth must be out on the table. It is not fair for a cheater to talk about their spouse and how their behavior affects the marriage unless they have been completely honest about their cheating. Most do not divulge the truth because they know the consequences will be devastating. Life is full of challenges and disappointment. Being lied to by the person you thought was your best friend is like a knife to the heart. It should not be easily rationalized away. Ignorance is not bliss. In a perfect world, we would all know what is going on in our life and make decisions accordingly. What I do have though, as a betrayed spouse who now knows if not all of the truth, at least enough to know what has transpired behind my back, is the ability to make my own decisions and choices once I did find out those destructive truths. Having the truth and knowing I am able to make choices is very powerful.

All that said, we are traveling back to Los Angeles for business… another summer-ish trip to LA, the scene of one of my husband’s crimes. He didn’t actually take the other woman there, but he did spend a great deal of time four years ago attempting to break things off with her, encroaching on my time with him during an anniversary trip. Over the many months of torturous discovery, I learned through phone records mostly, because those don’t lie, that he had talked with and texted with her quite obsessively. We have now been back to LA a few times since then, staying at the very same hotel we stayed at back in 2013 for our anniversary. As a matter of fact, we stayed at the Century City Intercontinental in August, 2013, and also in May 2014 (a few months post discovery… but before I knew about the phone records) and June 2016 (Breakfast Conversation).

This time around, I have decided to pick a different hotel, a better hotel, my favorite Los Angeles hotel. I know I won’t be triggered in Los Angeles. I believe Blue Eyes isn’t in contact with the other woman or any other woman, or even behaving badly in other ways. I guess you could call that a form of trust, I don’t know, belief in and trust, what’s the difference? At this point, in order to keep my wits about me, I have let all that fear and obsession go. I didn’t know about his secret life, but the truth is, neither of us knew he was an addict. Things are very very different now than they were before discovery and even over the past couple of years. I have the very distinct belief that my husband loves me and he doesn’t want to do anything to jeopardize our partnership (he thought he had that before, because I wasn’t ever going to find out his secrets, remember?) and at this point he believes that losing his sobriety, as bad as it is for his own mental health, would be devastating to “us.” I know not hurting me again won’t be enough to truly fight his addiction demons at the worst of times, but not losing his best friend is very important to him and does factor in. Trust at this point is tenuous at best. I believe he is on a good path now. And if I believe something to be true, and I find out it isn’t, it is impossible to devastate me again at this point, because what I do know now, is that no one deserves blind trust. I know what Blue Eyes is capable of now, and I know why. That brings me more peace than thinking about all the negative possibilities for our future together. I see happiness for us.

Wise trust assesses the probability of betrayal, in recognition that we are all frail creatures capable of betrayal in weaker moments (or in Kat’s words, have betrayed previously). Realistically, it’s possible that any of us could betray a loved one. Blind trust denies this darker characteristic of human nature; suspiciousness exaggerates it. Wise trust is an assessment that the probability of betrayal is low. (credit: Steven Stosny, Ph.D., Trust and Betrayal, Psychology Today Jan. o3, 2014)

At this point, I’m throwing the probability of betrayal and the trust that it won’t happen again, out the window and am focusing on my own happiness, which only I have the power to control. I now have what I guess Dr. Stosny would call Wise trust, plus belief in myself. For me that means that I trust that no matter what happens with my husband, I know I will be okay. Good even. Great even! Wow this was a shitty lesson that had to be learned the really really hard way. But I’ve got it now.

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And then there’s this beautiful creature blankly staring at me as I type. There’s very little of consequence going on in that little brain. She’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, as they say. But Stinky (a.k.a. Tinkerbell) is mighty adorable. Ah, some days I would very much like to be a cat.

Road trip to Yosemite

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Old School Road Trip ahead. I-5 South at Weed, California with the tip of Mt. Shasta visible in the distance.

Wow did we have fun last week!

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My little Porsche Cayenne averaged 34 miles to the gallon, and she’s a pretty comfy ride!

We took my incredibly comfortable road trip car and headed down to California. The Peacemaker joined us. We have a friend who is a hobby photographer (and he’s pretty damn good) who had visited Yosemite a few years back. He took some spectacular photos, and ever since seeing those photos I have wanted to go to Yosemite. Apparently I was there as a child, but I have no memory. I started pinning photos of Yosemite a couple years ago on one of my dozens of Pinterest Boards and well, I just felt like the time was now. I knew it would be crazy crowded over Memorial Day weekend as some of the roads were just opening up and the snow melt/volume of water coming off the numerous falls was supposed to be spectacular. It’s a 12-hour drive to Yosemite National Park from our house, and we left on Memorial Day in order to miss the holiday weekend crowds.

There are many routes a person can take from Portland to Yosemite, but since we have made all those drives before to California, I opted for the straight route right down Interstate 5, and then over to Merced. The state of Oregon is quite lovely, but there are monotonous stretches of California that are a bit yawn worthy. The Mt. Shasta area, however, is gorgeous.

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A vista point on I-5 with Mount Shasta in the distance.

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Lake Shasta at dusk.

We arrived Yosemite on Day Two.

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Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite National Park.

On Day three we headed into the park. We didn’t do any long hikes the first day, we just tried to get our bearings and take it all in. We did small hikes to huge waterfalls and took a lot of photos.

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Viewpoint at Tunnel View. El Capitan on the left and Bridal Veil Falls on the right. Our first day was cloudy, but no less magical.

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I like to call this photo Coexist. Families biking along the valley meadow, half dome covered in clouds behind them, and a deer munching on grass while I take a photo about six feet away. An overwhelmingly tranquil moment in the park.

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Upper Yosemite Falls in the distance. I was mesmerized by the reflection in the water. We spent quite a bit of time in this spot.

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Lower Yosemite Falls.

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Dusk in the park, first day.

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On our way out of the park on our first day, The Peacemaker and I hiked down to Alder Creek. This is just a snippet of the water flow, which at some points of the year is little more than a trickle. On this day it was at a roar.

We had planned to spend two full days at Yosemite. On day two, the weather did a 180 and turned very warm, with the bluest of blue skies.

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Heading into the park.

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Tunnel View on a Blue Sky Day.

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First stop… a short walk up to Bridal Veil Falls where my hair got soaked, my clothes got soaked, my phone got soaked, my shoes got soaked. I looked like a drowned rat and the day was just beginning. And the water coming off these water falls is ICE COLD. Thank goodness for the warm sunshine back down the trail.

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On Day two we had planned to do a serious hike. We chose the Mist Trail along the Merced River, and up to Vernal Falls. This here is the Merced River at the bottom of the trail near Curry Village Campground.

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The first part of the trail, although paved and easy to walk, was pretty much straight up hill leading to a footbridge that crosses the Merced River as the water storms off the mountain from Vernal Falls. Easy Peasy.

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The second part of the trail is still pretty much up hill, a lovely red dirt path, shaded and gorgeous.

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Now, the third part of the trail is where the fun begins. And by fun, I mean steep slippery granite steps going straight up, at least 600 wet, incredibly slick steps on the side of a mountain with a monstrous waterfall spewing MIST (yeah, the name of the trail makes sense now) all over you. As they say, you will be wet down to your underwear. NO KIDDING. This first little part is the mostly dry part.

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Just around the bend from the last picture… I was SO THANKFUL for that railing along the narrowest part of the path. I actually cropped Blue Eyes out of this pic, he was hugging the side of the mountain and imploring me with his eyes to just give him permission to turn around and go back down…. and I am the one that is AFRAID OF HEIGHTS! You cannot tell here how incredibly WET this trail actually is. By this point we could barely see from all the water dripping off of us. I was soaked through, shaking from the cold, my legs were starting to ache and feel rubbery from the height of the steps (not to mention the altitude), about twice the height of a normal step, but gall darn I was going to get my phone out of my drenched pocket, dry it off with, well, nothing really, maybe the inner pocket of my shorts, and get a picture of this. It was beautiful, but it was scary.

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The view next to you as you are climbing the steps up up up.

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Vernal Fall.

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After climbing the 600 or so slippery granite steps, you come to a granite walkway/ramp carved into the mountain with, thankfully, a railing and when you get to the top, it looks like this.

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AND THIS! The top of Vernal Falls. SO Magnificent. At this point, we deemed the whole thing worth it, BUT, we had to get back down to the valley and none of us wanted to go back down those stairs. We ended up choosing the longer route back down, which actually meant going up quite a bit more on the Mist Trail to Vernal Falls to Nevada Falls John Muir Trail? It was difficult for me to understand exactly where one trail ended and another began.

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We hiked up and over to this footbridge that crossed the water flow between Nevada Fall and Vernal Fall. We had no desire at this point to keep climbing up to Nevada Fall. We took a couple photos and headed back to the John Muir Trail.

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In summer and fall, the area down below is a tranquil looking section of water called Emerald Pool. At other times of the year it looks peaceful and inviting for a swim, HOWEVER, it is incredibly dangerous at all times of the year and healthy young men have tried to swim across the seemingly calm looking pool and got caught up in the treacherous current. Right now, in Spring, this area of the fall is raging. Beautiful and incredibly deadly. It will carry you right around the corner and over Vernal Fall, which is not survivable.

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Nevada Falls, up top there. I love shadows. Here you can see my shadow, standing on the bridge. It really was an amazing day.

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Right near the bridge was where we got our first trail glimpse of half dome (up top in the picture). Here’s my men getting their own photos. BE is almost always carrying something of mine. In this case, it is my favorite gray and white striped backpack. So versatile and lightweight.

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The Peacemaker and I veered off the path and over to this lookout (with zero railing) to get a shot back down to the top of Vernal Falls. The little specks on the flat surface up on the right are people, right where we had just come from. And look at the spray off that fall… that is where we were climbing the wet granite steps. No joke, it was WET!!!

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Once we hit about 8500 feet elevation (we had ascended over 2000 feet on the hike), we hit the three mile dirt horse trail that would take us back down to Yosemite Valley. The trail was sorta smooth in most parts, but other parts were pretty chock full of rocks, oh yeah, and horse poop. The mosquitoes got me even though I was literally carrying the bug spray in my hands and constantly spraying.

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In the end, my Nikes got me there and back (thank goodness they’re washable), not a blister in sight: 9+ miles walked, more than 2000 feet elevation climbed, equivalent of about 120 flights of stairs pretty straight up, in about 4 hours (we stopped to smell the, uh, mist?). I think I need some hiking boots!

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The next afternoon we headed back home by way of Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. This is Mount Shasta at dusk on Friday night.

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Saturday we drove in to Crater Lake National Park at about noon. Part of the rim drive is not open yet for the season, so our trip was short and sweet. This is Crater Lake Lodge, built in 1915. It’s pretty cool. That is a pile of snow on the right in the photo.

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You will always encounter a friendly begging chipmunk at Crater Lake.

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I have been to Crater Lake many times both as a child and as an adult. The Peacemaker hadn’t been there since he was two. It’s pretty amazing.

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Crater Lake with Wizard Island on the left. These Crater Lake photos were not altered in any way. It is just that blue.

Honestly, we all had a blast. No drama, no triggers, just plain old family fun times. When we return, I will climb to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls. I’m looking forward to it.

More about year four

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Our beach Paradise.

We returned Saturday night from a wonderful road trip to Yosemite National Park in California, but that is not what I am writing about today. Today, I need to go back in time a couple weeks and discuss a conversation between me and Blue Eyes. I have been spending more and more time at the beach house and Blue Eyes spends quite a bit of time going back and forth to the city. I think this will be our routine for the summer. We have witnessed many amazing storms from the beach house, but I am ready for some consistent sunshine. Who has a beach house and doesn’t spend the summer there? or as much of the summer as possible taking into fact that we all have obligations beyond lounging on a deck staring at waves all day.

This entry is a bit of a continuation of my last post. I think what I really want to get across is that recovering from addiction is a process. A process for the addict and for the people around the addict. There isn’t some magical point in time when the addict is recovered and everyone else has healed. Or even a specific point when the addict seems to get it… when he becomes naturally empathetic in most situations, or is able to automatically ground himself. There is not a specific day when he stops feeling the need to medicate. At least not in my little corner of the world.

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My little Aussie loves the beach.

Blue Eyes had left early on a Monday morning. The day after his epiphany about having cheated on me. He returned Tuesday evening. We took the dogs for a walk and Blue Eyes started talking about his therapy appointment earlier that day. From what he has told me, he is supposed to be working on childhood wounds, FOO issues, getting in touch with his inner child, forgiving himself and having empathy for that child and some of the things he feels shameful about from childhood, etc… All good things because hopefully this level of self reflection and understanding will allow him to better deal with some of his shame triggers. Unfortunately, Blue Eyes tends to bend the rules a lot in many facets of his life and therapy is one of those places, in my opinion. In couple’s therapy with Chatty Kathy all those months ago, whenever I talked about something Blue Eyes had done, or even how it impacted me, she required me to always use the disclaimer: in my opinion. I still use it. I am pretty comfortable with my opinion. I think I see things pretty clearly these days.

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Low tide.

Instead of staying focused on childhood issues with the Shrink, Blue Eyes went off script and started talking about how he had been triggered lately and about how he still thinks about his drug. In this case his drug is the last other woman. For a sick, obsessed addict, he had a pretty good thing going. He knew there would be shame and fear and pain and regret wrapped up in his drug, there always had been, but this particular woman provided a pretty persuasive narcotic. She would do what he wanted, mostly when he wanted it, and she was always available. As I have mentioned numerous times, that drug is still there, sitting in her run-down hoarder’s house drinking her whiskey and petting her rescue animals. He could call her today and she would drop everything and have the same monotonous, dirty, ritualistic addict-y sex with Blue Eyes that they had for eight years. He knows this. I know this. She knows this. I know it’s not about me, and it’s not about her. I married an addict.

I would have been okay if the conversation had stopped there. I know it is difficult on many stressful days for an addict to keep those thoughts out of his head. Unfortunately, the conversation didn’t stop there. The Shrink proceeded to tell Blue Eyes he understood the “temptation.” That he had once been in a very destructive relationship with a beautiful woman, and that even though the relationship was toxic, he still thought about the sex with this woman because it was that great. Honestly, I couldn’t hear anything else after that. My mind did that flip flop thing where it goes from being practical and understanding and present, to being angry and frustrated and well, PISSED OFF!!! Sometimes that anger brings on a flash of tears because I just fucking want people to think about me, to understand me and for me not to have to explain why something hurts so bad. Whether I am in the room or not, the universe hears (as Blue Eyes likes to say). I want him to be open and honest. I want him to be in full-on recovery without continuing to hurt me. Some days just suck.

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Visiting ducks in front of our house.

This angry tearful behavior hasn’t always been about Blue Eyes, but for the past 3+ years it has been pretty exclusively about him. We were having this conversation right in the middle of the street with people all around, people walking their dogs, couples sitting on their porches waiting for sunset, others unloading groceries from their car, etc… I couldn’t hold back the tears or my words. I asked Blue Eyes how he cannot understand how this conversation with The Shrink hurts me. He is insinuating that Blue Eyes had some romantic relationship with this woman that included hot sex and that is why Blue Eyes “still thinks about it.” *SIGH* I am a broken record. Addiction is not about hot sex, it is about medicating wounds with a drug. Yeah it feels good for the moment (just like sex with ME feels good, no GREAT, in the moment). This woman is not prettier, sexier, hotter, or better in bed than me. I know this, but apparently, The Shrink does not, and that makes me angry. That conversation between Blue Eyes and The Shrink should never have happened, in my opinion. Conversations about how an addict feels when craving his drug are meant to be shared with other guys who have been in his shoes, maybe even in his shoes that very day. That conversation is meant for Blue Eyes’ 12 step guys. That is why he has a circle of friends, safe friends. People who know it is not about how hot the sex was, or wasn’t. People who know how difficult it is to just fucking live life without their DRUG. Blue Eyes knows that divulging his weak moments to his 12 step guys is more difficult than sharing with The Shrink. He knows what he is supposed to do.

Blue Eyes tried to back track and he told me The Shrink did bring the conversation back around to how destructive those thoughts can be for Blue Eyes and to remember how horrible he felt, and how painful it was for his family, and how afraid he was. That’s all good and fine, but Blue Eyes knows all this and it will never be enough to stop him from just giving up and giving in to his drug. Some moments, on some days, it’s all too difficult and addicts throw away their sobriety because they just fucking don’t feel like working that hard anymore, it’s their instinct to act out. He MUST use what he now knows to be healthy alternative behaviors for getting himself out of a stressful moment and into a place of stability. Phone a safe friend, pick up his 12 step materials or a mindfulness book (he always has these with him now), meditate. I’m not completely sure why he brought it up with The Shrink, but most likely he wanted someone to tell him, it’s okay… we’re all fallible human beings. His 12 step guys don’t go that route… they say “we know how difficult this path is, the righteous path, but we have new outlets now for those difficult moments, we know how to get out of it before we’re in it… now.”

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A pod of pelicans down the beach.

My frustrated mood stayed with me for a while and Blue Eyes knew exactly what he had done. He got it. He agreed with me about his 12 step guys and how it is the more difficult path, but the correct one. He agreed that The Shrink can help him in certain ways, but not in the way he was using him and he was sorry he had triggered me and made me feel bad, made me feel less than.

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Friendly seagull looking for snacks.

I know he doesn’t mean to, but it still hurts and angers me anyway. Again, I want Blue Eyes to share and be open with me. It is important to cultivating a stronger relationship between us and it helps with my trust issues because I know he is willing to put himself in a vulnerable place for me.

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One of our many gorgeous sunsets.

Day and night, the beach is so magical, it is difficult to stay in a bad mood for long. ❤

Revelations

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Castle in the Clouds. The Beach House.

Embracing Mindfulness.

If we actually sit and think, really sit with our thoughts, and actions, do we condone our own behavior.

No Excuses.

I have the above italicized words written on a note, but I didn’t write down who said them? Maybe Pema Chodron? I do remember me typing in the words around it though. Embracing Mindfulness and No Excuses. I tried googling the other words, but came up with nothing substantive. I was going through all my notes on my phone, deleting everything that was outdated, looking for a recipe I had jotted down there when I ran across the quote.

Ironically, the recipe I was looking for was buried in another note with this quote from Cheryl Strayed’s ‘Wild… ‘

It seemed to me the way it must feel to people who cut themselves on purpose. Not pretty, not clean. Not good, but void of regret. I was trying to heal. Trying to get the bad out of my system so I could be good again. To cure me of myself.

I had to sit down. I don’t remember typing in that quote (where has my memory gone, potentially menopause is eating it little by little… ) but I can see why I did. My sister is a cutter from adolescence. She never had any regret for the cutting, but there was shame there that she was trying to release. I likewise never had any regret associated with my self harm. NONE. People tried to convince me that I did, but I didn’t. I did what I did at the time because I thought I needed it to survive, not die, SURVIVE. Although the big kerfuffle with Blue Eyes and the therapists revolved around how it made Blue Eyes feel, more scared than anything, I think, I was much more concerned with how it made me feel: ALIVE. Blue Eyes had stolen me from me. Betrayal does that. We can belittle the whole thing… people cheat, people divorce, blah, blah, blah, but I have never taken betrayal lightly. And this betrayal is about my best friend pulling my reality right out from under me and me spiraling into a place I had never been. A place where I didn’t know who or what to trust. Where I actually felt bad about MYSELF. This was about thirty years of lies. My husband was not who I thought he was.

Thank you Cheryl Strayed for getting me and my need to rid me of the poison that had been administered to me without my knowledge.

Back to mindfulness. I’m at the beach house alone. Blue Eyes came over with me this past Saturday, and actually, we drove separate cars as he had to be back home Monday morning for some intense mediation. I opted out. I like to come to the beach house with no real plans of when I must go back to the city. It helps me feel free.

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As a matter of fact, this is where I sat, reading a book, while Blue Eyes was stuck inside a stuffy old government building on a beautiful sunny and warm Monday. I’m starting to put myself first. It’s not selfish…. remember (that’s rhetorical, I’m talking to myself here, and not in a crazy old lady kind of way, but in an insightful way, okay?).

The weather was gorgeous here on the Oregon Coast for the first few days. Pictures will be forthcoming in a separate post because it was that beautiful and I totally want to share. This blog has become my venue of choice for journaling and also writing out the thoughts that go with my photos. I post pics on Instagram and Facebook, but this is where my feelings are truly shared. I have always thought of this spot as my personal journal.

Besides my art, I am starting to believe there is a novel or two swirling around in my head and I know this beach house is where the thoughts will spill out. I’ll save those feelings for another day.

Instead I am going to recount a conversation between me and Blue Eyes this past Sunday afternoon. We were sitting on our deliciously comfortable leather sofa in the beach house great room. I have been a little out of it lately on some days with a sinus infection and hot flashes and so I was just vegging, looking out at the sea. It is like the west side of our house is a big movie screen playing the pacific ocean all day. It doesn’t always even feel real. I keep looking for Truman and his boat. I picked up my phone and noticed a blogger friend had accepted my request to follow her on social media. I started perusing her photos and wondering if she had the same feelings I had had when looking back. Post dday, I went back through all the photos in and around the acting out periods. Pain shopping is what some would call it. I called it my new reality. Those days are past me now, but looking at the beautiful shots of the betrayed wife and her sex addict husband, looking at their smiling faces, I showed the picture to Blue Eyes and said, “this is a shot of them well before dday, look at that happy couple.” Truth be told, they look just as happy in the photos after dday because that is what we do, we pretend for the camera. I understand that, but I also understand how painful it is to look back once we know the truth.

Blue Eyes looked out to the sea for a while then he turned around with tears in his eyes and said, “I cheated on you.”

I didn’t say anything. I just looked at him. It was like he was finally realizing what he had done, in the master scheme of things, what most people think they will never do, betray their best friend. He wasn’t thinking like a broken down little boy, or rationalizing like an addict, or talking it out while protecting his emotions like a barely recovering addict… he was sitting squarely in the thoughts of what he had done, in a human and vulnerable way, and saying it out loud.

I was dumbfounded, speechless even. He whispered “I can’t believe I cheated on you,” and eventually I said, “yeah, you did, and I can’t believe it either.” What a strange experience this was. I didn’t shed a tear. I didn’t make a big deal of it. I let him sit in his own thoughts.

We have this really awesome Sonos sound system at the beach house with speakers on the deck and spread throughout the house. Really great speakers. We can parse out a certain room and play music just in one space, or play different music in different spaces. I love it. Anyway, I am sitting here listening to the Jim Croce Pandora Station and The Eagle’s Desperado is playing… everything means something different now.

Your prison is walking through this world all alone

It may be rainin’, but there’s a rainbow above you
You better let somebody love you, before it’s too late

I’m not implying everyone needs a mate. Absolutely not. I’m saying Blue Eyes was walking through life surrounded by people who love him, but living a very lonely and destructive existence inside his head. He may not have been literally running away, but inside, he was trying to escape his past, his present, and his future.

I now realize that because his deepest self was unavailable to me, I was also alone.

He cheated on me. It’s awful, it’s heartbreaking, it’s life changing, but it’s not the end of my world. This is what year four looks like.

 

Australia, week two: the rainforest

Fair Warning: this is my last travel post from our six week vacation and it is a LONG one.

After our kanga/koala day trip excursion, we tried to get ahold of our travel agent, but it was a Sunday night. Our Qantas flight up to Cairns Airport had not been canceled. We were seeing reports of a Cyclone (Cyclone Debbie) off the coast of Eastern Australia that could potentially hit as far north as Port Douglas, but more likely would hit our end-of-the-week destination, Hamilton Island. We decided there was nothing we could do at the moment, so we continued on as planned. We flew to Cairns without incident and were driven north to Thala Beach Nature Reserve where we were scheduled for three nights.

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After some waiting and a free arrival drink, we haphazardly found our way to our room. At check in they had offered to escort us, but they were taking a while, and we were fairly well melting in the heat and humidity of the North Queensland Tropical Rainforest. This photo is from their website, but it is an accurate representation of our room/deck. All the rooms are independent little cabin/treehouses.

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This is the actual view from our room looking south to the Coral Sea.

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View from the restaurant at Thala Beach Nature Reserve.

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All day, every day the restaurant was surrounded by so many birds, but the rainbow lorikeet were by far the most colorful. (photo credit: thalabeach.com.au)

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The first night at dusk we were absorbed in a presentation by a local aboriginal speaking about natural plants and how they are used by the native people as cures for all sorts of ailments and diseases, when I noticed this amazing pink sunset.

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The following day we had an excursion planned to Kuranda, a small town in the rainforest outside Cairns. Our tour included a Skyrail ride over the top of the rainforest to Kuranda.

I wasn’t sure what to expect of Kuranda, it looked really touristy from the brochure we were given at the skyrail office down in Cairns. We walked around a bit. It was excruciatingly hot in the rainforest at this time as the cyclone was pushing all kinds of hot air up into North Queensland from the desert. By this time we were hearing that the cyclone would not venture as far north as Cairns or Port Douglas, but it was set to hit Hamilton Island (and the surrounding areas) really hard. We were in wait-and-see mode. The travel agent from the U.S. had contacted us and told us their liaisons in Australia would call us shortly. Turns out, they never did, but for the moment we were focused on Kuranda, and staying hydrated, and finding something to do for the 2-3 hours before our train was scheduled to depart back to Cairns.

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Kuranda Village (photo credit: skyrail.com.au)

Kuranda Village felt a bit like a cruise ship town in the middle of the tropical rainforest. Souvenirs galore. We did some window shopping and then I came across the artist’s gallery from which we would purchase that piece for the beach house. Here’s another look at it.

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All his pieces tell a story about the natural topography, plant life, bird life, etc… of his home. This week, I finalized the specifics with the artist for the bigger commissioned piece, which will hang in my loft/studio. Now I just have to wait for him to create it. Did I mention it will be 4′ tall by 7′ wide? I am so excited.

While I was perusing the map of Kuranda Village, I noticed there was a Koala Garden near the gallery and, the opportunity to hold a Koala. I am not enamored with zoos and animals kept in captivity, but my desire to hold a Koala overpowered my politically correct nature and I figured… when in Australia…

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Harvey the Koala. Look at that adorable speckled bum! He was so soft and cuddly. What a sweetheart. Don’t bother mentioning my double chin and my old lady underarm flubber… 😉 reminiscing about holding Harvey and sharing my sheer joy at the experience was worth throwing my vanity out the window! 🙂

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Here is what these Koalas do when not being held and cuddled by chubby middle aged ladies! These are my kind of creatures.

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The park also had lots of other hoppy, pouch bearing animals. This little wallaby was very friendly.

Eventually, after meeting a really special artist, and hanging out with some adorable marsupials, it was time to catch the Kuranda Scenic Railway back to Cairns.

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Chugging through the North Queensland Rainforest at Barron Gorge.

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Gorgeous Stoney Creek Falls.

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The Kuranda Railway.

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Resting our weary feet.

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A much needed snack back at Thala Beach Nature Reserve before a walk down to the beach.

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The beach at the resort.

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So, we took our walk before dusk, which I guess was lucky for us as we found out later in the week that there are crocs in and about the water here at dusk. I am pretty surprised no one warned us and there were no signs. I guess it is just common knowledge in that area that there are crocs in the rivers and the creeks and the oceans. Yikes!

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The beach hut at Thala Beach Nature Reserve.

The next day, Wednesday, we were getting a bit antsy as we had not heard from the Australia travel agent and we had no idea what was happening with our Hamilton Island Resort. We knew the storm had set down in the area of where we were headed, but we had no idea what the damage was, mainly because phone service was out down there. We took the shuttle from our resort into Port Douglas and headed into a travel agency to see if they could give us any information. We ended up finding out that our resort had been hit heavily and they would be closed for at least three to four months. Strange that our flight down had not been canceled yet. The agent called Qantas and they confirmed that they were in the process of canceling all flights to the Islands.

We had some choices, but at this point, the original travel agency had our money. We figured we would be given the opportunity to stay at Thala, but we were kind of wanting a change at that point. Our last few days were scheduled to be spent relaxing by the pool or beach at a luxurious full service resort and spending one day out at the great barrier reef. What to do, what to do. The Sheraton was the nicest Port Douglas beach resort and the travel agent was warning us that it probably wasn’t going to be up to what we were expecting. It was not in the same class with the resort we had booked at Hamilton Island.

She suggested we look into Silky Oaks Lodge. Another North Queensland location, deeper in the rainforest, but a more luxurious resort. We ended up calling directly the agent that was supposed to have been working with us, but whom we had not heard from and she did end up booking the Lodge for us and they also comped us a Daintree forest day excursion for Saturday. We then went and booked a catamaran day trip to the Great Barrier Reef for Friday, and we were set.

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After finally getting ourselves locked in for the next few days, we walked down to four mile beach in Port Douglas. We were thinking about hanging out at the beach for the afternoon, but it was SO HOT. Over 100 degrees. We spent a good part of our days Down Under applying sunscreen. What with the hole in the ozone layer directly above them and all. It was take your breath away hot, burn yourself in five minutes hot, so we went into town for lunch instead and then headed back to our resort. This beach in Port Douglas is beautiful, but the reason for the roped off area: stingers. This time of year there are deadly stinging jelly fish along the shores and they have to net off areas, and remove the stingers, in order for people to swim and play safely. Unless you want to wear a full on stinger proof body suit, then go for it, but watch out for crocs and sharks.

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Thursday morning we headed to Silky Oaks Lodge in the Daintree Rainforest.

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Lobby photo courtesy of Silky Oaks Lodge website.

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Photo of the lodge rooms from the river. Photo courtesy of Queensland.com

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Our room, the Billabong Suite.

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Our resident spider lady, just outside the bathroom window. With leg span she was about a foot in diameter with a five foot web around her. Nothing was getting by her. We were grateful she liked to stay outside.

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The lodge pool photo courtesy of Silky Oaks website.

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The view from our room just before it started pouring rain and all the power went out in the entire resort. Our room went from a comfortable 75 degrees to about 95 degrees in 15 minutes flat. Dinner in the fancy restaurant was an interesting affair, but of course we didn’t starve. The power came back on, thankfully, by the time we returned from dinner.

Friday was all about The Great Barrier Reef. We had to see the reef. I cannot imagine going to Australia and not seeing the reef, but it is true that some of the reef is dying off. There are lots of areas where the coral life is still thriving, but we weren’t prepared to go that far out and I am still not comfortable snorkeling, but we thoroughly enjoyed our catamaran ride out to and our relaxing afternoon at Low Isles.

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Low Isles is adorable, if islands can be called adorable.

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Low Isles beach, North Queensland Australia.

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We walked all around the island, which is truthfully quite tiny. We spotted lots of fish, and birds and a little black tipped shark swimming next to us in the shallow waters. It was lovely. Those that did go snorkeling had to wear the full stinger proof suits from head to toe. We took the little glass bottom boat tour and saw the requisite tropical fish and a big sea turtle swam next to the Catamaran.

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Low Isles lighthouse with two Osprey sitting on the rail and their big nest up on top.

We took a guided walking tour of the interior of the island and learned some fun plant and birdlife facts. We also learned that this was the small island where they transported Steve Irwin’s body to try and revive him after he was stung by the stingray in 2006. He was pronounced dead on arrival.

Our final full day in North Queensland was dedicated to intimately exploring the Daintree Rainforest. There were five of us on the tour including the guide. Our first stop was to Walu Wugirriga (lookout).

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The Lookout

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It is incredibly difficult to see, but in the above picture, there are dozens of these gorgeous electric blue butterflies in and amongst the tropical plant life. They are called the Ulysses Butterfly and are only found here on the Northeast Coast of Australia. They were all over the resort as well.

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These birds are the endangered Cassowary, also native to the Daintree Forest. They are nearly extinct and very difficult to sight. I’m glad we didn’t see any as they are considered the most dangerous bird in the world.

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We visited the Daintree Tea Plantation, but I was most enamored with this cross shaped spider web made by the St. Andrews Cross Spider.

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Thornton Beach with view of storm brewing at Cape Tribulation.

Our guide then drove us to the Noah Valley area of Daintree Rainforest and gave us a little lesson on spotting poisonous snakes before we embarked on our proper forest hike. Our guide is a snake expert. He was actually excited to potentially spot a poisonous snake. I was not so excited. Thankfully we did not spot any snakes.

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Our guide took a photo of the inside of this host tree. It is very cool looking, but there was no way I was sticking my hand up in there after our snake lesson.

After our rainforest hike and learning all about the types of trees indigenous to the area, we headed to Cape Tribulation:

Cape Tribulation was named by British navigator Lieutenant James Cook on 10 June 1770 (log date) after his ship scraped a reef north east of the cape, whilst passing over it, at 6pm. Cook steered away from the coast into deeper water but at 10.30pm the ship ran aground, on what is now named Endeavour Reef. The ship stuck fast and was badly damaged, desperate measures being needed to prevent it foundering until it was refloated the next day. Cook recorded “…the north point [was named] Cape Tribulation because here begun all our troubles”. (Wikipedia)

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I have always been fascinated by mangroves, but this is the closest I have been to these interesting bushes.

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Staghorn Fern epiphyte growing on a mangrove bush. I fell in love with this fern and then we returned home to the beach house to find that our designer had left a gorgeous house plant on our kitchen counter that includes a Staghorn Fern. ❤

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Cape Tribulation.

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Cape Tribulation Beach.

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Peppermint Stick Bugs. A unique bug only found in a few places on earth and the Daintree Forest is one of them. When disturbed, the bugs emit a milky substance that smells like peppermint. First, they are the most beautiful color, and then they emit something that smells divine. Not exactly great defense mechanisms against the likes of me.

After visiting Cape Tribulation we ventured back to Noahs Valley for a delicious outdoor lunch and another short hike. This time down to a gorgeous swimming hole. It was raining (in the rainforest, imagine that–still 90+ degrees) so we opted not to swim, we were plenty wet already.

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Swimming hole at Noah Creek.

After our post lunch hike, we headed to the Daintree River to see if we could spot some crocodiles.

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Croc hunting on the Daintree.

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We did see a few crocodile, including this bad boy.

After our tour, on our last night in the rainforest, we decided to check out the swimming hole at Silky Oaks Lodge.

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Silky Oaks Lodge Beach Billabong (river pool) on the Mossman River. We went in, but Blue Eyes was incredibly uncomfortable after all the snake and croc talk that day. Many of the rivers in North Queensland are inhabited by crocodile. This area of this river is not, but Blue Eyes didn’t spend a lot of time in the water. He wasn’t taking any chances.

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Stock photo from the Silky Oaks Lodge website of the beach billabong. It really is THAT beautiful!

The next morning we were back to Cairns for our uneventful flight back to Sydney Airport, and our eventual flights back home. I was really worried about the 13 1/2 hour flight from Sydney to Los Angeles, but the flight was actually quite comfortable. I had opted for a small upcharge to Premium Economy on Virgin Australia. We had lots of leg room, entertainment galore, and our meals were actually served on real china. Totally worth it. Jet lag turned out to be a real bitch, but considering we had an amazing six weeks, I’m not complaining (anymore, ;)).

Australia, week one: Melbourne

We spent a whirlwind three days in and around Melbourne, Australia.

“…there never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do once you find them.” This should probably be my theme song for travel. We fell in love with Melbourne. I want to go back for the Australian Open Tennis Tournament. Attending the Australian Open had been on my bucket list. I thought for sure if I ever went to Australia, or certainly Melbourne, it would include tickets to tennis. As things turned out, our travel didn’t take us anywhere near Melbourne in January. Melbourne at the end of March ended up working out okay. Of course we totally wished we had had more time there.

We arrived our hotel mid afternoon on Friday. The boutique hotel our travel agent booked was really fun and we could actually see the tennis stadiums from the hotel. Great location near the CBD (central business district).

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Hotel Lindrum (photo credit: hotellindrum.com.au)

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Hotel Lindrum Lobby

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Hotel Lindrum Lobby Bar

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Our room was beautiful (photo credit: hotellindrum.com.au)

We ventured out to find something to eat and got caught up in all the amazing street art that graces the laneways (alleys) of Melbourne. Amazing art, legally presented, down the alleys of the Melbourne CBD.

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This is a collage of street art photos found within a few blocks of our hotel. The art on the left is the first we spotted, in the alley behind our hotel.

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One entire side of AC/DC Lane is currently dedicated to Prince.

It was a really busy Friday night in downtown Melbourne with lots going on including the Grand Prix just outside the CBD. We found a fun underground tapas restaurant and feasted on wonderful ceviche.

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Saturday morning we were up and out for our scheduled walking tour of Melbourne’s Arcades and Laneways. But first, our hotel came with an amazing breakfast assortment. I have had avocado toast numerous times in the U.S. and in fact make it all the time for myself at home, but it is not often offered on American breakfast menus. I am here to say it is quite popular down under. Avocado toast everywhere!!! I opted for it every chance I got.

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The Lindrum’s Avocado toast was especially delicious as they kicked it up a notch with feta cheese mixed in with the avocado.

We loved our walking tour. We met up with the guide at Federation Square, across from the famous Flinders Street Railway Station.

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Flinders Street Station

Flinders Station is an icon of Melbourne and a popular meeting place, under the clocks. Our guide told us lots of stories about the station, there’s a ballroom inside, but possibly the most interesting is that during the 1956 Olympics held in Melbourne, the Soviet Union Coaches were so concerned about their track & field athletes training along side other countries (fear of defection) that a running track was installed on top of Flinders Station for their private training.

Our tour took us mostly inside the shopping arcades and down the more interesting and popular laneways. Although most of the arcades and laneways have been around since the mid to late 1800’s, it has really been during the past 25 years or so that Melbourne has set itself apart from other Australian cities by allowing urban art to proliferate in the central business district and embracing a creative and unique culture. Melbourne also boasts a good number of amazing chefs and restaurants.

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Degraves Street

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Block Arcade Shopping

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A much needed snack half way through our walking tour.

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The original Melbourne downtown post office is now a clothing store.

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Another trip down AC/DC Lane. We found out that the week after Prince passed away, artists came together and dedicated one side of AC/DC laneway to Prince. Artists are allowed to paint over another artist’s work if they think theirs will be better. No one has painted over this homage to Prince.

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Even the dedicated recycling alleys are beautiful.

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A Famous Tea Room Inside Block Arcade

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St. Paul’s Cathedral across from Federation Square, Melbourne.

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Our tour ended with lunch at a tapas restaurant in this alley. We ate a lot of tapas in Melbourne. 🙂

After lunch and a bit more walking around on our own, we headed back to Degraves Street for dessert.

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Doughnut Time had great donuts and their names and flavors were very creative.

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Sunday, our last day in the Melbourne area, was spent on a wonderful tour outside the city. This would be our first glimpse at some of the unique marsupials found in Australia and a good opportunity to see and hear birds. Australia has A LOT of bird varieties.

We set out early, before the day got too hot as I think kangaroos spend a good deal of the day hidden in the shade on warmer days. We drove to Serendip Sanctuary where we saw  a mob of kangaroos in their natural habitat. It was really difficult to get a good photo with my iPhone. There were others on the small tour who had fancy cameras and huge lenses and tripods and all that. One was a photographer for a magazine. We just snapped a few candids and enjoyed watching these amazing animals.

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Serendip Sanctuary. Apparently kangaroos like grassy areas with bush nearby, like this. They are very cautious.

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The iPhone zoomed in all the way on a pair of adult roos with a Joey hanging out of mama’s pouch. It is difficult to see in the photo, but it was so so cute watching these babies just hanging there looking at us. There were quite a few babies in the group. So sweet.

We drove around Serendip for a while spotting all kinds of birds and quite a few Emu. At one point our driver stopped, backed up, pulled over and let everyone out of the van. He had spotted a Tawny Frogmouth up in a tree. What the what?

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On the left is what the bird looks like. On the right is the tree in which our guy spotted the bird from the dirt road. Yeah, I know right where the thing is and I have a difficult time seeing it, in a zoomed in photo from right under the tree. I guess that is why he is a nature guide and I am not!

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A sample of a few of the birds we saw at the sanctuary… top left, Willie Wagtail (he wags his tail when he walks), top right Eastern rosella, bottom right, Magpie, bottom left, Kookaburra, and middle left, crested pigeon.

Australia has the most amazing selection of birds. We also saw gorgeous fairy wren at a billabong (isolated pond) in the sanctuary, but photographing birds is no joke. I don’t know how people get these shots. I guess really expensive equipment and whole lot of patience?

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Fairy Wren.

We also saw gobs and gobs of cockatoos, which I used to think were exotic. Well, not anymore. They are loud, obnoxious birds that act like a common crow. Obviously they are prettier, but not very well mannered.

After Serendip Sanctuary, we headed to the You Yangs Regional Park in search of Koala. We walked through miles of bush. This area of forest is monitored closely by the Koala Clancy Foundation in an effort to improve habitat and save koalas from extinction. The koalas are tracked and identified by their unique nose patterns, located on maps using a GPS system and reported. The research is compiled into reports for study. Some of the koalas located in this area were injured, nursed to health and reintroduced back to the You Yangs. The purpose of this foundation in this specific area is for education, and improvement of habitat through invasive plant removal and tree planting. Over the years, the koala habitats have been significantly adversely affected by humans.

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Sugar gum eucalyptus forest

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This is Mara and her baby is above her, mostly hidden by branches and leaves.

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This is Becky. She was hit by a car, nursed back to health, and reintroduced to the forest last year.

We also saw a big, old male, but I was unable to get a good photo of him.

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I was enamored with this dead tree in the You Yangs Park. I still think it is pretty cool.

That ends our quick trip to the Melbourne area of Victoria, Australia.

On the ride back into town, our driver asked everyone where they were headed next. A couple of us were headed up to the rainforest near Port Douglas in North Queensland. He warned us of a cyclone heading that way and suggested we contact our travel agents, which we attempted to do when we got back to our hotel.

A lot more on that in my next and last Down Under travel post.

My healing place

The week before Mother’s Day, I headed over to the beach house for some “me” time. Mother Nature was looking out for me and my somewhat melancholy mood. The weather went from pouring rain and fierce winds, to sunshine and warmer temperatures literally overnight. I spent five glorious days at the beach before the weather turned around again, as it so often does here in the Pacific Northwest. Truth be told, most native Oregonians (at least the ones I know) enjoy a good storm almost as much as they enjoy warmth, sunshine and blue skies, but we have certainly seen our share of storms this year. We’re heading into summer and I would like to spend all my free time over at the beach. Our first summer with a beach house, big smiley face!

This post is a picture reminder of how much I love the Northern Oregon Coast, how much I cherish our beach house, and because a blog commenter asked for more pictures. I do love taking photos.

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You can’t get much bluer than that. 

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Sunset photos on the west coast can be quite spectacular.

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Home sweet beach home.

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I’m working on my beach house cookbook collection. There is something about using recipes from a real bound cookbook in that house that feels right. Suggestions welcome.

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My new home office.

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My beach house terrariums are doing quite nicely. They like their new home.

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On one of my many walks around the neighborhood, I took photos of a couple of the beach paths. Oregon’s beaches are all public and mostly very accessible to all who want to enjoy them. There are quite a few little paths on our fairly short stretch of beach, and actually, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Oregon Beach Bill, which safeguarded our beaches from development and kept them public for the world to enjoy.

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There are also lots of old shingled beach houses.

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A sunny day on the Oregon Coast beckons a little road trip. Nehalem Bay.

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Nehalem, Oregon.

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People hike and bike this area of Hwy. 101 in all weather, but warmth and blue skies really brings out the backpackers.

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Northern Oregon Coast, Oswald West State Park. View down to Manzanita.

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Oswald West State Park and the Pacific Ocean.

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Sunset from our deck.

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Waking up to this puts a smile on my face.

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I will never tire of this view either.

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Front Guest Bedroom. The Princesses’ bathrobe.

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I have not been able to unpack my painting supplies yet as there is still touch up work being done on the beach house and I don’t want my things to be messed with. I have, however, commissioned a painting for that big wall from an artist we met in the tropical rainforest of Australia.

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An original sketch/watercolor by the same artist I commissioned. This one is much smaller, and will also hang in the beach house…. somewhere, TBD.

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As the weather changed from blue skies to stormy ones, a surfer showed up in front of our house at high tide. Ours is not really a surfer’s beach, so I stayed and watched until he came back in safely.

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And then there were clouds, and rain.

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But still a beautiful sunset for my last evening at the beach house.

My birthday fell on Mother’s Day this year, so I returned to the city for the occasion. I’ll be heading back over to the coast very very soon.

Australia, week one: the big city

Before we arrived Sydney, however, our cruise ship docked at Hobart, Tasmania. Again we had received recommendations from Ruby and had opted for the Tahune Forest Airwalk. Forests ended up being a theme for this trip. It was a beautiful day in Hobart as we hopped on a bus that would take us to the banks of the Huon River in the Huon Valley of southern Tasmania. We walked through the forest and then on the Airwalk itself, which is a steel walkway footbridge high up near the tops of the Eucalyptus trees.

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The banks of the Huon River. Tasmania, Australia.

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Interesting thing we learned while on our forest tour. We have actually seen 9 of the 10 tallest tree varieties in the world. The tallest variety is the Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens, California). The second tallest tree is the Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans, Tasmania), and third is the Coast Douglas-Fir found right here on the Oregon Coast. As far as numbers 4-10 are concerned, two are found in California (in locations we have been), and four in Tasmania. Number five is actually in Borneo, a place we have not been. Who knew that our trees out here on the west coast of the United States were THAT tall. Also, pretty sure I had no idea there were that many different varieties of Eucalyptus tree. Thank you Tasmania, Australia!

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Brown Top Stringbark (Eucalyptus obliqua). Known as “King Stringy” for its bark. #10

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A look down at the forest from the Tahune Airwalk.

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The massive trunks of King Stringy.

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The Huon Pine River Walk.

Back at the dock, I took one last photo of our ship. At this point we had a couple hours before leaving Hobart. After Hobart we had one more day at sea before we finally docked in Sydney.

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The Azamara Journey

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Of course you might notice another running theme (besides my obsession with forests and trees)… PIZZA! This one was really nice. A brick oven 1/2 margherita, 1/2 Italian style.

Back on board the ship, we had chosen this particular evening for our special night together. Truth be told, we had chosen a couple other nights that frankly did not work out with the weather. Our spa suite included a private, romantic dinner on the spa deck. It was really wonderful. We had the entire deck to ourselves. During dinner, we had a designated chef/server. There was candlelight and Michael Buble in the background. The chef prepared our meal right there in front of us on a little hot stone grill. It was over the top decadent with lamb chops, filet mignon, chicken, fresh caught fish, and pork tenderloin. The dinner commenced with hors d’oeuvres. It started getting dark shortly after our arrival on the deck, so I only took a few pictures and then gave up and just enjoyed myself.  There was a whole platter of appetizers just for us, then a platter of antipasto, a tomato mozzarella salad, a huge green salad plus numerous grilled vegetables and potato varieties. It was seriously over the top. Dessert was something sinfully chocolate, plus a plate of chocolate covered strawberries, which we set aside for later.

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This is s stock photo, obviously, but it looked exactly like this on the night we left Tasmania. After dinner we did go in the huge spa tub. It was well past dark at that point.

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We had our own bed made up for us on the deck in case we wanted to sleep outside. We opted to relax on the bed after the spa tub, and listen to the waves. We slept in our own room, but we sure did take those strawberries with us!

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This was the gorgeous sunset as we sailed away from Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.

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We had a beautiful day crossing over the Tasman Sea.

And then, we lost the pretty weather. As we arrived Sydney on a Tuesday morning, the clouds were upon us. Still, it was an absolutely gorgeous ride in through the Harbour.

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The big Carnival ship that you can see above just past the Opera House ended up taking the main Harbour moorage spot. Our smaller ship was able to pass under the Harbour bridge and down to a smaller dock just past downtown Sydney.

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Under the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

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I took A LOT of pictures of that bridge and that opera house.

After proper docking, we disembarked the ship for our private afternoon excursion that would take us on a drive all around Sydney plus lunch at an exquisite spot across the Harbour. And blue skies came out for the occasion.

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Another view of the Harbour Bridge, this time from the other side.

We started near Circular Quay, an area of the city originally built by convict labor. Today the main ferry terminal is there (and that Carnival Cruise Ship), plus lots of shopping, cafes and restaurants, street performers. Just generally a really fun place to hang out. We drove by and through many different neighborhoods like Darling Harbour (newer pedestrian area with museums, the Sea Life aquarium and lots of other fun spaces; I wish we could have spent some time there), downtown and the Sydney Tower, we stopped at Mrs. Macquarie’s Point, saw Nicole Kidman’s former residence at Darling Point overlooking Sydney Harbour (not too interested in Nicole Kidman or where she lived/s, but she’s a big deal in Australia). I thought the U.S. was bad about hounding celebrities… apparently Australia has a serious paparazzi problem as well.

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A stop in to a cozy little secluded beach near Watson’s Bay.

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The mighty South Pacific Ocean at Gap Road.

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Our lunch destination: Gunners Barracks, Mosman. The building was originally used as barracks for artillery men operating a battery on Georges Head. Now it is a simply gorgeous place to have a meal, or afternoon tea. (or a wedding apparently)

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Afternoon Tea (which Australians call High Tea) at the Gunners Barracks.

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Blue Eyes and I chose the Barramundi for lunch. Fantastic!

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View from Gunners Barracks.

After lunch we continued driving around through the most expensive neighborhoods. It was nice, but I think our time could have been better spent learning a little bit more about the history of the city, and not learning so much about how expensive the residential real estate is…. and it is EXPENSIVE!

Toward the end of the tour, we drove by some famous beaches including Bondi Beach (pronounced Bond-Eye).

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Bondi Beach. Safe swimming area is between the two yellow/red flags, i.e., not very wide.

As we were heading back to the ship, it started raining pretty heavily with thunder and lightening. Great timing! We ate our last dinner on the ship, packed our things, and the next morning, we were off.

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Last picture of the Azamara Journey, pool deck.

We were whisked away to our hotel accommodations for the last two nights of our stay in Sydney. We took it easy that day. Blue Eyes had work to do and preparation for a business meeting the next morning in Sydney. I relaxed and took in the view from our room. There was sunshine until that witching hour again, same as the day before, about 5:00pm, and then there was another electrical storm with pounding rain, thunder and lightening. We ate dinner at the hotel.

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Out the window of our hotel room, The InterContinental, with views of the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Harbour Bridge (out of this shot to the left), the Sydney Opera House+++

The next morning I slept in while Blue Eyes went off to his meeting. I was trying to figure out what I really wanted to do for the afternoon as it would be our last opportunity to experience Sydney. Our travel agent had booked us a really fun evening with a semi-private tour of the Opera House, a three course dinner at Aria Restaurant, and then our very first Opera, La Traviata.

I had originally wanted to take the ferry from Circular Quay to Taronga Park Zoo. I’m not a huge fan of animals in zoos, but I was pretty excited to see all the Australian animals I haven’t seen before. But then I also wanted to do the Bondi to Coogee Coastal walk. I had heard about it before and then was reminded by an Instagram follower that I should not miss that walk. The weather was sort of cooperating, so I opted for the Beach Walk. SO GLAD I DID! OMG. So beautiful!

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We started back at Bondi Beach. We were familiar with it from our tour a couple days before.

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The walk is paved and very safe. This rock is just past Bondi. So interesting.

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Honestly, the beauty was mesmerizing.

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Tidal Pools.

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Tamarama Beach. Closed to swimming and surfing due to dangerous water, making it even more pristine and beautiful.

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Bronte Beach.

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Bronte Beach Rock Pool. So gorgeous. The waves just spill in and out, in and out.

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Bronte Beach Cliff Rock.

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We encountered numerous older and very tan gentlemen just relaxing anywhere and everywhere. What an awesome place to read the paper. Bronte Beach.

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Waverly Cemetery.

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Gordon’s Bay

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And finally, Coogee Beach. Just a quick, not very interesting pic because it was starting to rain, I had to go to the bathroom, and we were STARVING. 🙂

We hustled up the beach and to the nearest eatery we could find, Coogee Pavilion. At first I thought it would be uninteresting. I thought it was Cafeteria Style (it wasn’t) and it turned out to be a great place to stop for lunch.

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Blue Eyes and I shared, as we often do. First, the Tomato, Watermelon, Burrata and Basil salad. So pretty and so good.

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And then for a bit of a splurge, the fried chicken sandwich. Mmmm.

We grabbed an Uber back to our hotel room and had about 15 minutes to prepare for our fancy night at the opera. Yeah, we should have left more time, but we really did enjoy that Coastal Walk. And, although it was just a short walk to the Opera House, it was pouring down rain by this time, and I was wearing heels.

Despite my fussing and fretting, however, we made it to our tour on time. The tour was great. So much information about the original Danish architect of the building, Jorn Utson and the conflict swirling around him and the actual building of the Opera House as well as the uses of the Opera House. The building is really a Performance Venue with the largest space being a concert hall, and then including an opera house (Joan Sutherland Theatre) with other smaller theaters included as well as a recording studio. There are cafes, restaurants, bars, and retail outlets. I was surprised to hear of the variety of uses for this venue including lectures, classes, music “gigs,” and Children’s school performances.

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Interior Stairwells, Sydney Opera House.

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Interior of the Sydney Opera House, wood steel and concrete converge.

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When we first approached the Opera House on our cruise ship and viewed it from the Sydney Harbour, I was really confused. I always thought the Opera House was white. Turns out that the exterior is made of precast concrete and then covered in tiles in a chevron pattern. The tiles are glossy white and matte cream. Depending on sun, light etc., they appear white or cream.

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View of the Sydney Opera House from our dinner table at Aria Restaurant.

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First Course: Portobello Mushroom Tortellini with Leek, Manchego, and Black Truffle

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Second Course: Steamed Blue-Eye Trevalla with Butter Carrots and Carotene Dressing.

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Dessert Course: Vahlrona Chocolate Mousse, Caramelized Cashews, Lime Sauce, Banana Chocolate Gelato, and Caramel Ruffle.

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Cute young couple outside the Opera House with the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Luna Park in the background. I really wanted to switch shoes with her!

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My last shot of the Sydney Opera House.

We enjoyed the opera although the tallest person in the Theatre was sitting in front of me. No kidding, when he stood up he was like seven feet tall. It was okay, I just had to lean a bit. As promised, La Traviata was full of fancy sets and lavish costumes. It was fun. I wouldn’t do it every week, but going to the opera could be nice every once in a while. We didn’t have enough time in Sydney to really get to know it, but we did okay.

The next morning we were off on a new adventure… in Melbourne!

The fight for control

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That happy place. Our beach.

Obviously Blue Eyes and I still have our moments. There are details that I don’t know. I would be living in fantasyland if I thought I would ever know everything. At this point, I don’t want to know any more. I do not specifically seek out details from the secret life of my sex addict husband. Sometimes, however, in the course of going about my life, I have feelings. Feelings that I know something isn’t quite right and I want to get to the bottom of it. The fallout of betrayal is just like that sometimes.

So, I had that AHA moment on Monday. The good thing is that our conversation was all of 30 minutes and I actively let the whole thing go, after writing my blog post, of course. I filled in a missing piece, and my instincts had been validated. I didn’t think on it at all after yesterday morning.

But yesterday was therapy day for Blue Eyes, and of course he has a very tough time letting things go. Crazy old me sat down to tackle a project in the afternoon and turned on the TV for company. A couple years ago television was a trigger. Not any more. About Last Night was just starting on whatever strange channel had been last viewed. What luck. As I sat there drooling over Rob Lowe (and it wasn’t creepy at all because even though he was maybe 22 in that role, we are of similar age, so when he was acting in that role, I was also a mere 20-something… rationalize much?), the movie brought back all those 80’s feelings. Again, memory like a steel trap over here. I kept thinking thank goodness I never moved into an apartment that belonged to Blue Eyes as I would have been cleaning day and night. Anyway, there is just something about Rob Lowe’s face that I cannot get enough of. He is SO PRETTY! Of course the movie itself is mediocre, but I don’t really care, because, you know, all that Rob Lowe.

Blue Eyes returned home in the middle of the movie, so I begrudgingly gladly paused the thing so we could chat. I could tell he wanted to talk, so we did. We talked about his therapy appointment that morning. The withheld information about the sleaze was most likely the first topic of conversation because Blue Eyes is horrible at shaking off the guilt and shame of his actions. Since last month (month 4 of the year, so step 4 in the 12 step meetings) Blue Eyes has been reworking his 4th step. The steps are always a work in progress, forever, for the addict. He will now be sharing his withheld information with his 12 step buddies, and adding it to his 4th step. Great. Good for him.

Just because it is rough for him to come to grips with what he did, doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have to. His job now, as I see it (and remember, this is the blog of me), is to learn how to deal with emotions that still swirl around in him. He does not have a calm center. He still feels shame and guilt and he still does deflect. In my mind, he needs to get to that place that is causing all the turmoil. He and The Shrink have been once again working on his inner child. The most interesting part of the conversation between me and Blue Eyes, however, was when we started talking about the “why.” Why is he afraid to share those acts of the past. They are all part of the story. They were done, by him, for him. He knows I’m not going to leave him for telling the truth. He accepts the fact that he did those things. He started talking about all the negative feelings crashing against each other and how he gave in to his addiction out of weakness, etc… But as he was talking, I tried to picture how it felt to do the things he did. I’m pretty good now at separating my own symptoms of betrayal from his addiction issues. I still think this whole thing is about power and control. He had none as a child, but he figured out a way to get it as an adolescent and he escalated as an adult. I said, I know you thought about your addiction a lot before recovery. I am trying to imagine what it felt like to get up, shower, shave, leave the house, head to the office, all while obsessing about feeding your addiction. I can only imagine that you had a singular purpose for your day, for your week or month even. As you left the office to head to the Other Woman’s house, if you actually had any feelings of guilt, or shame, or thought of how can I do this to the people I love, you probably would not have been able to do it. I do believe Blue Eyes is a good person inside. I know he certainly wants to be. I know he didn’t do these hurtful things on purpose. I know he wasn’t trying to destroy anyone’s life. So what drove him to do what he did… we can say addiction, but what drives it?

I say power and control. I think that’s what drives Blue Eyes’ negative behavior. He still hasn’t completely acknowledged that he actually does have control over his life. He controls everything. He has power. But somehow it is never good enough. To me, that is what I see. There’s a power hungry monster inside Blue Eyes and although he is not the raging beast he once was, he’s still in there, clawing and fighting to control that other guy. The guy I married.